Top 5 Changes to Post 9/11 GI Bill

President Obama has signed the Post 9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvement Act (GI Bill 2.0) into law.  What does this mean for you?  Lots of small changes have a big impact on the way the bill works.

The top five changes that will impact active duty service members:

  1. Active duty service members, and spouses to whom they have transferred benefits, will now be eligible for the $1000 per year annual book stipend.  (Paid at a rate of $41 per credit hour.)  (Effective 10/1/2011)
  2. Funds may be used for a wide range of educational options, including graduate work, apprenticeships, certificates, licenses, and vocational and technical training.  (Effective 10/1/2011)
  3. Funds may be used for placement exams such as the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, ACT and SAT.  (Effective 8/1/2011)
  4. Funds may be used for multiple licensing and certification tests.  (Effective 8/1/2011)
  5. NOAA and PHS forces will now be eligible to transfer their benefits.  (Effective 8/1/2011)
  6. (Sorry, it is important)  Active duty service members and their spouses will now be subject to the same tuition caps as veterans.  (Effective 3/5/2011)

The top five changes that will impact veterans:

  1. Students attending classes only online will now be eligible for a reduced housing allowance of up to $673.50 (for full-time students.)  (Effective 10/1/2011)
  2. Housing allowances will be prorated based on the number of credit hours pursued each term.  (Effective 10/1/2011)
  3. Housing allowances will no longer be paid during school break periods.  These break times will not count towards the use of housing benefits, so benefits will extend longer but will be less consistent.  (Effective 8/1/2011)
  4. Veterans may now use their benefits for a wider range of schooling, including undergraduate through doctorate degrees, vocational, technical, certificate, on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs.  (Effective 10/1/2011)
  5. The Post 9/11 GI bill will now pay all public in-state tuition, including graduate school.  It will pay up to $17,500 per year for private school tuition.  (Effective 8/1/2011)

The top change that will impact National Guard and Reserve members:

  1. National Guard personnel may now use both their AGR and Title 32 service time to qualify for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.  (This is effective August 1, 2009, but not payable until October 1, 2011.)

These changes were designed to bring the GI Bill benefits to a wider audience without negatively impacting a large number of students.  From comments thus far, the change in how housing allowances are paid will impact the most people, both positively and negatively.  If you are a full-time student who relies on the housing allowance, not getting the allowance during forced school breaks could break your budget.  If you are a distance learner who is going to get the housing allowance for the first time, this bill provides a huge benefit.

Officials anticipate another frustrating fall semester as they continue to struggle with the previous version of the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  These changes will bring a whole new set of challenges to the accounting and payment systems.  If you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill next fall, be prepared for late payments and administrative problems.

For more information about the changes included in this bill, read

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Enaud Parker

    I don’t thinks it fair to take away my housing allowance. I need the full amount to pay my rent while I’m in school.

  • usafdrew

    I notice that this article places the new cap of $17,500 on private school tuition and fees under only impacting veterans. I am under the impression that active duty and spouses of are also affected. No?

    • KateKashman

      Great question, Drew. I will amend the original post. As I read the changes, active duty and spouses will no longer be entitled to unlimited tuition payments. I have to say that it took me a long time to track down that detail (even though it is right at the GI Bill website.) Thanks for encouraging me to find it!

  • Roy

    Regardless of the changes to the GI Bill. The payments are always late especially during the time of the Christmas holiday then kids go back to school.

    • Erin

      My husbands gi bill has been late every month for over a year…we have gone more than three months without receiving one payment and the VA tells him the system is slow and there is nothing that can be done…What a JOKE

  • Sailor87

    Need some help and couldn’t think of a better place to turn. I did not receive my post 911 GI Bill payment today and the call center is closed due to the weather anyone out there with a clue as to what is going on?

  • Joseph Hatcher

    I love it… I just love it. Life could not be better. Free schooling! What else could be better. Get a job folks, this isn’t a welfare program. People will complain about and thing. I have women in my classes that are single moms and that are 4.0 students, working and going to school. So come up with another excuse….I have answer, get a job.

  • DMD

    Well good Lord!!! The reason why most of us joined the military is to get our schooling paid for and our rent. If we spent our time overseas and had or a#$es shot at the least this country can do is pay for our school and our rent!! Freedom isnt free!! If you truly did your time, this is least your are owed.

    • Linda

      Amen to that!!

    • Brian (doc)

      can I get an AMEN! Damn right. I’m so sick and tired of these arrogant little turds thinking that were trying to get a free pass. I’ve earned my freaking bennies for 12 years of service. Why is it so hard for people with the IQ of a tomato plant to figure this out?

  • Robert

    How come I got less money for the month of April when it’s a full month of school? I understand that May will be less since it’s only 1/2 a month, but I don’t understand why April would be $1000 less.

    • KateKashman

      Robert, that doesn’t sound right. I would call the VA (I know, not an easy task) and also contact your school’s VA rep. I’m not a GI Bill expert, but I can’t think of any reason why your April payment would be short.

  • alysha

    Robert..We are experiencing the same thing. Although ours isn’t 1000 but is it almost 200? I am not sure what is going on!

  • Alex

    I think the issue with the gi bill payments (mine was 700 less) is due to the supposed gov’t shutdown everyone was worried about. I’m not sure if they’ll fix it this month or what. Hopefully soon.

  • joe

    This is terrible. I gave up the Montgomery GI bill for the post 911 GI bill because of the housing stipend and now they prorate the housing stipend if I don’t take 12 credits, all of which have to be towards my major) but I cant take 12 credits towards my major because I received every elective through my military service. Now I can’t go back to the Montgomery GI bill because I gave it up when I applied for the Post 911. I guess Obama has to cut back veterans benefits so he can give out more welfare.

    • KateKashman

      Joe, I agree. It is really awful that people like yourself had to make an irrevocable decision to choose between the two GI bills, and then Congress changed the rules for the new Post 9/11 GI Bill. There isn’t much we can do now except let our Senators and Representatives know our thoughts.

      Good luck in completing your studies!

  • Oscar

    I go to a vocational school and I was told that I couldn’t receive housing allowances because it wasn’t a degree seeking program so will I recieve bah starting in January I’m trying to understand the difference in October

    • Oscar

      I meant will I stArt recording it in October

  • KateKashman

    Doug, there are two bills in Congress that could help you. H.R. 1383 creates a 24 month “grandfather” window for students currently enrolled in programs whose cost exceeds $17,500. S. 745 allows students until 31 December 2014 until the new cap takes effect.

    Please contact your legislators to express support for these bills.

  • RangerP

    Has anybody heard anything about the stipen not being paid during the months of June and July 2011? I go to school year round and need to know if I can expect a payment or not.

    • danielle jenkins

      Heres what I know, The VA has made changes to the their systems and until june 20th, the VA is not paying for classes that end or begin in aug. If your under post 9/11 you should still be recieving your monthly check
      Hope this helps

  • Soldie for Life

    Complaining never solves anything. Just be grateful that you’re getting some free bucks for education. Freedom is never free….

    • genre

      Are you stupid? The GI Bill is funded by contributions from active service members. It is only the ignorant that believe vets using their GI Bill benefits are after some sort of “charity”.

      The GI Bill is funded by service members for service members. There is no “free”.

      • KateKashman

        genre, the new Post 9/11 GI bill does not require contributions from active duty service members. It is 100% government funded at no cost to any service member (other than that the money is coming from elsewhere within the VA budget.)

        • makman45

          I just want to say from the ranks of the retired after putting my life on the line for 22+ years, being shot at, shot out of the sky, being in every shit hole this earth has to offer. And then some dick head in the government who will get full pay and benefits and free college for his kids just because he served 4 years sitting on his ass taking my benefits away is straight bullshit and if you agree with that then your a dumb ass to.

  • Frustrated!

    Just found out from a friend that the GI Bill will no longer pay for flight training taken through a school that also offers a degree! What in the world is going on here?! I have been waiting forever to get a chance to start my dream of flight training only for it to be shot down by the damn economy and budget cuts! What am I supposed to do now?! I am so sick and tired of the economy controlling my decisions in life! Our goverment needs to get their heads out of their asses!

  • J.J. from the Navy

    I understand that if you take less hours your housing will be less. But, I heard that taking less than nine hours leaves you ineligible for housing. In other words if you only take 8 hours, you won’t get a housing benefit. Also, how do you get more hours, if these are your last two classes and the VA told you, you can only take what is on your graduation plan. The housing changes have me somewhat confused…

  • Curtis H.

    I am an active duty career Soldier and I recently transferred my Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to my wife. What I didn’t realize prior to doing this was that because I transferred my wife will use these benefits while I remain on active duty, she will receive no housing benefits. While I don’t necessarily disagree with the VA’s logic behind this; i.e., prevention of double dipping VA housing and active BAH benefits, I believe this is an important point which needs to be considered when making beneftis transfer decsions. I’m not %100 sure, but I don’t think this rule applies when transferring benefits to dependent children.

    • Nikki

      You are correct, it doesn’t apply to dependent children.

  • Makman45

    you must not be taking a full load, so unless you are shut the hell up. I’m glad you have a job but some of us have been laid off and can’t find work that is willing to work around the school schedule so again shut the hell up.

  • ricky

    Your an idiot Joseph ………..Everyone knows this isnt a welfare program and everyone has the right to gripe if they please and even more when they were promised something and believe me the education isnt free fuckin retard i served many years to earn that!!!!!!

  • Steven

    Will it still be required in October that I have 15 Credit hours to join the Military with a GED?

  • Garrett

    Is there any way my son will be eligible to start using my transfered benefits even though I didn’t hit my 10 years in service ??I have currently served 8 years and I am on orders till 2016 in which I will have served 12 years??

  • MilitarySpouse

    Ignorance at it’s finest Joseph. Anyone with half a clue what these men & women and their families endure for the pathetic paychecks they receive would never be so ignorant as to compare veteran’s benefits to welfare. Those benefits ARE part of their paycheck. Those who choose not to use them, well they just gave the taxpayers MORE of their hard earned income.
    They don’t know what a 9-5 job or a 40 hour work-week even is – their hours of business are 24/7 son. Wake up & gain some perspective, and the next time you pass a veteran on the street, be sure to thank them for their service that ensures you the comfort of living in a country where you can run your mouth like a blatant moron.

    • Brian (doc)

      Thank you. It’s still nice to know that others think of us vets trying to get a degree. This kind of crap makes me ill from uncouth know-it-alls like this one.

  • VET-

    Ya WTF

  • Pete

    Don’t think it’s fair that I served until late 2002 in a combat area and I only receive 50 percent of the post 911 GI Bill. Whoever came up with those requirements should lose their job immediately.

    • guest

      It’s the POST 9/11 GI bill. You were only active 12 months post 9/11 then headed for the hills. Why should you reap the benefits of those that did 5 plus years and 3 plus deployments?

  • kelly

    my husband called three days ago and was told our BAH payment should be deposited in 3-5 days. i went online to his va status and it said that there are three deposits being payed on monday, but im confused to which is what we will be getting. Two of the payments say educational assistants and the third i can tell is for tutition payments. are these the payments i am waiting for and if so..why does it appear online before they are deposited? and if they are not what i am looking for, what should i do about getting them?

  • Nick